Looking to freshen up your unit, revamp that kitchen, retile the balcony and give it a well-earned makeover? Sounds great, but before you roll out the cabinetry and haul out the hammers you’ll need to check in with the body corporate first, and here’s why…

Body corporate by-laws

While it’s your investment, and chances are most body corporates will be more than supportive of you giving your unit a lick of interior paint, each body corporate has by-laws about the type of work that can be done, by whom and how it should look.  These rules are designed to keep a property looking uniform and structurally sound.

Rules change from unit block to unit block – sometimes they’re stringent, sometimes they’re more relaxed, but the rule of thumb is; check in with your body corporate first to ascertain what permissions need to be gained before you start work.

Keeping it uniform

Many of the guidelines laid down by a body corporate regarding renovations are about keeping the exterior appearance of a property uniform and neat. While they apply predominantly to areas like the look of your balcony or courtyard, rules can extend to window finishes and treatments such as curtains. It’s about the look of the whole unit block from the outside and maintaining a streamlined appearance.

Structural works

Inspirational renovation shows like The Block may have you itching to grab a sledgehammer and punch through that kitchen wall to create a stunning servery. But the reality is that wall may well be supporting the unit above, which is why it’s critical to put your renovation plans to the body corporate first.

As other people’s investments are dependent on what you do and how well you do it, you may also have to use a licensed builder and engineer to complete the task, and work closely with the body corporate to ensure the structural integrity of the entire building.

Consider the impact

Few renovations can be completed without incurring a bit of mess and additional foot traffic. While your improvements may have minimal impact on surrounding unit holders, even extra trades people coming and going in the lifts or stairwell can have roll-on effects to others trying to get home with their shopping. That’s not to mention any noise caused by drilling or hammering, or any mess made as carpets are ripped up.

Prior permission a must

Starting works without necessary permissions just is not an option. Even if the works are inside your unit, they may still require body corporate approval. If changes are not appropriately approved come sale time, the body corporate can find out and you run the very real risk of them asking you to undo any unapproved work. The body corporate has the right to do this and you could find yourself tied up in expensive legal proceedings.

The bottom line

The likelihood is at some point in the life of your investment your unit will need a freshen up. Just be sure to check in with the body corporate first and understand what restrictions apply and any extra approvals you need. Then you can enjoy the renovation process in the knowledge everyone will be happy with the result.